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NCJ Number: 209244 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Moving Into Motherhood: Gang Girls and Controlled Risk
Journal: Youth & Society  Volume:36  Issue:3  Dated:March 2005  Pages:333-373
Author(s): Geoffrey Hunt; Karen Joe-Laidler; Kathleen MacKenzie
Date Published: March 2005
Page Count: 41
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Health and Human Services
Rockville, MD 20892-9304
William T. Grant Foundation
New York, NY 10022
Grant Number: R01-AA10819
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined how pregnancy and young motherhood affected a group of teenage mothers immersed in a risky lifestyle involving gangs and alcohol use.
Abstract: The social construction of the idealized “good mother” has stigmatized mothers who fall somewhere outside of this stereotype, which has been largely shaped and controlled by middle-class standards in Western societies. One of the most noticeable groups of “bad mothers” in American society has been the young mother group. The current study sought to dispel the myth of the “young bad mother” by examining the realities of pregnancy and early motherhood among a group of teenage mothers engaged in gang and drug activities. Data were drawn from an ongoing study of ethnic youth gangs in the San Francisco Bay Area; face-to-face interviews were conducted with 118 self-identified gang members who were located through a snowball sampling technique. Participants had a total of 160 children between them all. The researchers explored the impact of pregnancy and parenthood on the participants’ involvement and membership in gang activity and on their alcohol consumption patterns. Data were analyzed using the NUDIST text analysis program. The results raise considerable doubt about the popular conception of irresponsible teenage mothers and about the stereotype of the young bad mother. Participants in this study did not purposely become pregnant as a rebellion or independence strategy and they generally came to embrace impending motherhood. Lifestyle changes were made that included a reduction in alcohol consumption, a reduction in association with gang friends, and a reduction in other risky behaviors. Participants relied on female family support, which was of central importance to the teenage mother’s ability to cope. Financial hardships proved to be among the biggest challenge for these mothers. Thus, dramatic lifestyle changes were realized among the young mothers in this sample, clearly dispelling the myth of the young bad mother. Tables, notes, references
Main Term(s): Female gangs; Risk taking behavior
Index Term(s): Alcohol abuse; Children of alcoholics
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